Right now, around week 3 of the semester, students start formulating their project topics. Here’s the initial project motivation from hospital dietician Andrea Cooper, who wrote:

I work with elderly people at risk of malnutrition. Medically tailored meals could be a lifesaver.

Older adults living in the community will make up to 24% of the U.S. population by 2030. They prefer to age in place and be self-sufficient, but are at higher risk of malnutrition than older adults living in specialized facilities. Malnutrition complicates their health care, requiring more resources upon hospitalization.

The food-as-medicine movement aims to provide medically tailored meals (MTM) for those populations most at risk. Current legislation proposes Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) pilots to evaluate the effectiveness of home-delivered medically tailored meals to Medicare participants. This reinforces the NIH 2020–2030 Strategic Plan for Nutrition Research  strategic goal #4- improving the use of food as medicine.

Optimization of the delivery of MTM involves increased research proving the intervention is working and increased funding of initiatives. California is the first state to begin pilot testing the MTM model. There are also smaller projects currently collecting data on MTM and relationships with specific disease states. Published literature suggests the use of MTM is associated with improved patient outcomes and reduced healthcare costs.

Constraints could run the gamut from scalability of the successful programs, coordination between regions and states, continued bipartisan support and again funding. There are possible of roll-over effects associated with providing meals to households at risk for food insecurity thus modifying this equilibrium even further. Is it possible that we have nothing to lose by providing nourishing food to those least able to provide it for themselves?


Comments are closed.